David Friedman, the man President-elect Donald Trump just selected to be the next United States Ambassador to Israel, has pre-offended a good chunk of American Jewry by referring to the supporters of the liberal Zionist group J Street as “kapos.”
Kapos were the Jews forced or designated by the Nazis to help kill other Jews during the Holocaust. It’s about the lowest thing you can call a fellow Jew. But then, in a column in a right-wing newspaper, Friedman doubled down.
J Street supporters, he wrote, are actually “worse than kapos.”
“The kapos faced extraordinary cruelty and who knows what any of us would have done under those circumstances to save a loved one?” Friedman wrote. “But J Street? They are just smug advocates of Israel’s destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure American sofas — it’s hard to imagine anyone worse.”
J Street is a pro-Zionist lobbying group that promotes a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians. For some observant Jews, the very idea of giving back the Biblical lands of Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank, is anathema. For a minority of American Jews, religious or not, territorial compromise with the Palestinians solution is a recipe for the destruction of Israel.
Even so, I’m not sure the majority of Jews who oppose compromise would call J Street supporters “kapos,” since many of those supporters are their own sons, daughters and friends.
But putting aside the coarseness of the term, there’s another reason it is, on the face of it, wrong-headed: because almost half or more of all Israelis support the J Street agenda as well.
Poll after poll shows Americans, who will be paying Mr. Friedman’s salary, prefer a negotiated solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. That’s the J Street position.
But even more striking is that Israelis, who unlike Mr. Freidman have suffered through all the terror and wars that the conflict has wrought, hold the same position.